How to Mix Infant Formula

Mixing a bottle of formula takes a lot more than just adding water

How to Mix Infant Formula




Experienced parents know that mixing a bottle of formula takes a lot more than just adding water. “It’s super important to follow all the steps to make sure the formula you give your baby is safe. If you have any questions, talk to your health care provider or your WIC Nutritionist. It can be a lot of information and we’re here to help,” says Akata Sanghani, RD, IBCLC, registered dietitian and lactation consultant at Texas WIC.

Learn How to Prepare Your Baby's Formula with the Mom Team

Safe Formula Prep
Amber and Nguyen from The Mom Team describe how to safely mix and store your baby’s formula. The moms discuss sterilizing bottles and bottle parts with or without a dishwasher. Learn how to cool down or heat up the formula so it is ready to feed your baby.

Cleaning Bottles

The first step is to make sure all parts of the bottle are clean and sterile. If you have a dishwasher, you can clean and sterilize bottle parts and nipples by using hot water and the hot drying cycle.

If you do not have a dishwasher with hot water and a hot drying cycle, follow these steps:

1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.

2. Take the bottles apart and wash all the pieces, including the bottle, nipples, caps, rings and valves with hot, soapy water. Be sure to have a bottle brush that you use only for cleaning bottles and not for the rest of the dishes. Run clean water through each nipple, and then rinse them completely. Dry everything on a clean cloth or paper towel.

3. At least once a day, boil everything to kill germs. Put the bottle parts and nipples in a large pot, cover with water and boil for 5 minutes. Carefully take the pieces out of the pot and place them upside-down on a clean cloth or paper towel to air dry. If you are not using the parts right away, cover them or put them in a covered container.

First step—make sure all the parts of the bottle are clean and sterile, so your baby doesn’t get germs that could make him sick

Making the Formula

1. Start with a clean surface. Wipe down the area where you will prepare the bottles.

2. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.

3. Read the instructions on the formula label to find out how much water and formula you should mix. Adding more or less formula than instructed can affect how your baby grows.

4. Make sure you’re using water from a safe source. If you aren’t sure if your water is safe, check with your local health department or your WIC office.

Start with a clean surface. Wipe down the area where you will prepare the bottles.

Protect Against Bacteria

Because powdered formula is not sterile, some babies need a little extra protection. If your baby is younger than 2 months of age, was born prematurely or has a weakened immune system, the following steps are recommended to protect against bacteria that may be in the formula.

Powdered formula:

  1. Make sure to heat the water to AT LEAST 158 degrees F or 70 degrees C. To do this, boil the water, then let it cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Be careful not to spill and burn yourself! Wear an oven mitt for protection. Pour the hot water into a clean, sterile bottle. Add the correct amount of formula, attach a nipple, ring and lid to the bottle and shake well to mix.
  3. Quickly cool the hot formula by holding the bottle under cold running water or placing it in a bowl of cold water. This will bring it to a safe temperature for your baby. Be sure to test the temperature of the formula on your wrist before feeding your baby.

Liquid concentrate formula:

Liquid formula is sterile, so the water you use does not need to be heated. Using safe water, follow the mixing instructions on the can. Attach a nipple, ring and lid to a clean and sterile bottle, then shake well to mix.

To warm a cold bottle of formula, place the bottle in warm water for several minutes. Never microwave formula — microwaves heat unevenly and can create hot pockets that can burn your baby.

Powdered formula is not sterile so you need very hot water to kill bacteria.

Feeding Your Baby

As a parent, you probably know how your baby likes to be held during feedings. Here are a few tips to keep things going smoothly:

1. Sprinkle a few drops of formula on your wrist to make sure that it is not too hot.

2. Look for early hunger cues like your baby sucking on his fingers or turning to look for food. It’s easier to feed your baby early instead of waiting until he cries.

3. Hold your baby so that his head is a little higher than the rest of his body. This can help prevent choking and ear infections, and it also helps baby have more control over how much he eats. Eating too much can lead to an upset tummy and cause him to gain weight too quickly. Never prop your baby’s bottle up with a pillow or blanket or leave your baby unattended while he’s eating.

4. Hold the bottle at an angle so that only the nipple fills with formula. When your baby seems to be slowing down, tip the bottle back to give him a rest. Stop feeding when baby turns his head away or spits out the nipple.

5. Throw out any formula that’s left in the bottle. The combination of infant formula and your baby’s saliva can cause germs to grow.

Hold your baby so that his head is a little higher than the rest of his body.

Storing Formula

It’s important to store unopened infant formula cans in a cool, dry, indoor place — not in cars, garages or outdoors.

  1. Don’t let the lid and scoop touch anything or get dirty.
  2. Be sure to close the lid as quickly as possible.
  3. Try to use formula within two hours of when you mix it. If you’re not going to use the bottle right away, put it in the refrigerator and use it within 24 hours.
  4. When in doubt, throw it out. If you can’t remember when you made the formula or you think it might be old, it is safer to throw it out than to feed it to your baby.
If you’re not going to use the bottle right away, put it in the refrigerator and use within 24 hours.
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